I think this is the place in most of these letters where the bride explains why elopement isn’t an option, so I’ll spare everyone and just say: I wanted to have a wedding rather than getting eloped. We’re keeping it really simple and low key so that hopefully things will be calm throughout the day. My guy thinks we should let everyone who wants to speak at the wedding do so and deal with the fallout, but I’d rather not make guests uncomfortable if we can avoid it. Is there any way I can honor my dad and still keep the peace at the reception? — The Bride’s not the crazy one
If it’s the reception you really want to keep the peace at — and, I’m assuming, the wedding itself — why not invite your father to say something at the rehearsal dinner if you’re planning to have one. And if you weren’t planning to have one, consider inviting your inner circle — the people you don’t have to worry about being uncomfortable in the presence of your mentally ill father because they love you and want to support you — to a dinner before your wedding. Call it a rehearsal dinner or a meet-and-greet or a “last dinner” just to be funny — call it whatever you want — but organize it for the purpose of blowing off a little steam before the big event. Invite your dad to give a toast and give him the opportunity to get some of the crazy out of his system before your wedding. Your dad will feel included and you’ll feel supported by your closest confidantes in the event that your dad “goes off the rails.”
And, look, if he doesn’t manage to get all the crazy out of his system at a dinner before the wedding and he wants to make a scene at your reception, delegate the responsibility of managing him to someone. You say he’s not on good terms with any family members so asking someone to watch him isn’t an option, but it shouldn’t matter whether he’s on good terms with anyone else; it should matter whether you’re on good terms with anyone else. You’re the one who would be asking for the favor, and it’s your day — I’d think there’s got to be at least one loving family member or friend who would be willing to step up and “babysit” your dad for a couple of hours so that you can enjoy your wedding. Can’t you think of one person? An aunt, an uncle? Even just a kind-hearted friend you can sit next to your dad and ask to keep an eye on him while you circulate?
Finally, if inviting your father to your wedding is going to cause you so much anxiety that you can’t enjoy your day, you may want to consider not inviting him. Of course, this option carries some potentially crushing consequences that will likely affect your relationship with your father for a long, long time. But maybe not having him in your life is preferable to having an untreated mentally ill father at the edge of your world always threatening to shake things up without any notice. I don’t know. That’s something for you to think about and discuss with your therapist (and fiancé, of course).
Think about what kind of role you want your father to have in your life and in the new family you’re creating with your husband-to-be if he never gets the treatment he needs. What kind of role do you want him to have and how will his presence or absence at your wedding, let alone his potential toast, lend itself to that role? And if he “goes off the rails” at your wedding, would the consequences be even greater than if you didn’t invite him at all? Figure out the “worst case scenario” of your different options — inviting him and letting him speak; inviting him and not letting him speak; not inviting him at all. And then after you decide for yourself which is the least worst, choose the one you’d more easily be able to live with. Good luck.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.